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Stick to the Plan, Roy!
By Martin Wade (June 30, 2004) 
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Somewhere in the country, deep in the rural part of Pensacola Florida, the phone rings.

Dogs bark, chickens squawk and the horses begin to buck at the distraction. The proprietor of the farmland, Roy Jones Jr., renowned prizefighter, answers the phone.

RJ: Hello? Who is this? Brad? Kery? This is RJ.

Me: Naw man, it’s me, the boxing junkie!!! Doghouse Boxing Man, Marty Mar.

RJ: Boxing who? How tha hell did you get my number playa?

Me: Man, forget all that, how tha hell did you sign to fight Glen Johnson? Didn’t you read my 'Ya’ll want some getback' article? I laid it all out in 'anatomy of the get back'.

RJ: Man, whoever you are, you trippin' and I’m about to press charges. Glen is the IBF champ, a tough guy and he deserves a payday.

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Me: (cutting him off) yeah yeah yea, I know 'hard luck Glen' deserves to get paid and I know you’ve been generous in this aspect through your career but this is serious business. Legacy stuff.

RJ: RJ does what RJ wants to do. Besides, I can't get up for anybody but heavyweights, maybe I can get excited about giving a brotha a break.

Me: Man you need to give me a damn break. I’m fielding e-mails every damn day calling me 'nut-hugger' and 'fan-writer' with no 'payday' in the immediate future, it’s nasty out here on the internet.

RJ: Tell you what 'fan nut-hugger' (it’s Martin man, Martin!) if you want to talk to Antonio and tell him I’m still the draw, I’ll give him a ring.

Me: Click (dial tone)

So here we are fight fans, all things were looking good in Roy Jones quest to salvage his legacy until the recent announcement that he will fight Glengoffe Johnson on September 25th. Roy seemed to be following the plan, glowing as a ringside analyst with HBO, even making a humorous reference to his defeat to Tarver saying that May was a bad month for the Jones’s. This self-effacing quip showed an acceptance that few elite athletes could speak about publicly. Nuggets of information were in the press that Jones-Tarver III was in discussion, and then the roof caved in. Roy Jones, fresh off the most crushing defeat of his storied career allowed Roy Jones 'the business man' to intervene thus risking catastrophe on his road to 'get back'.

Consider Antonio Tarver's situation, and the many players who will soon inject themselves into this scenario. Tarver more than anyone knows his situation and like any other fighter in his mid-thirties, he is looking to capitalize on this victory and cash out in three fights or less. Can you blame him? Roy needs to understand that if he won't make the recently bankrupted fighter a rich man, someone else will. 'Get back', if genuine and pure is not on RJ time, because there’s too much of a gamble that both men will be derailed on the way to consummating the trilogy. In recent interviews, Mike Tyson mentions Tarver specifically as a probable opponent. Okay, Mike didn’t actually say Tarver's name, he called him “that guy who knocked out Jones”. By unseating Roy as boxing's pound-for-pound best does not make Tarver 'the Man' but an addendum to the rule should be as follows: the only thing better than beating the man is finding yourself on speed dial to a 'bigger' man. Get the picture, Roy?

Three Hungry Men

Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver are three very hungry men and any combination of these three fighters can greatly impact how we remember Roy Jones Jr. Bernard Hopkins has an open December 4th pay-per-view date with HBO and once he finishes with De La Hoya (for big dollars) there won't be a middleweight crazy enough to fill that date. If Tarver is on the shelf this fall he will jump all over the vacancy. A victory over Hopkins, which is a very real possibility, will make Tarver even more difficult to negotiate with, given Jones’ reluctance to give the future hall of fame middleweight a rematch over the past decade. Tyson, a self-described “vagrant” needs the money, but do you think Mike has a healthy respect for Tarver’s prodigious talent as self-promoter/provocateur? Let’s be realistic, any 'version' (or what’s left) of Tarver after Tyson will never be the same, therefore any victory over Tarver by Jones will be bestowed an asterix.

Take a tip from the Golden Boy

Roy Jones should revisit the bargaining table with Antonio Tarver with an Oscar De La Hoya styled blueprint in hand. If Roy really feels like he needs this 'stay busy, pick up a belt' fight, then Tarver and Joe Calzaghe would be an awesome co-feature. Trust me, after Joe’s conduct with Johnson he can't pass up the opportunity for American exposure against the best fighter at light heavyweight. Any peep out of him and it’s back to Frank Warrens missing fighter program. The double bill should be set up for Jones-Tarver III to take place if both fighters win in the same vein as De La Hoya-Hopkins. This way 'Mr. Square Ring' can have his cake and eat too, never mind any notions that beating 'hard luck Glenn' will add any negotiating leverage. Winning this fight on September 25th is just a win; it won’t budge Antonio because he’s 6-foot-2 with a world of options above the light heavyweight limit.

Hopefully Roy will abandon his current course and subscribe to sound logic. 'Mr. Square Ring' can’t help him now. If he wanted to hit Tarver where it hurts (see my 'Who’s the Man' piece) he would have never granted the second fight. At this stage Roy must realize that Tarver hit him where it hurts - on the jaw - and now he must play ball. If pride is allowed to dictate the future path of Roy’s career, and something goes wrong - as it always does in boxing - Roy Jones will remember this stage and his inability to secure the third Tarver fight. With all due respect to Glen Johnson, this bit of observation has very little to do with Glen’s obvious merit and well-deserved payday. My observations have more to do with how a man who exhibited an almost superhuman ability to sense danger and use physical foresight in the ring can't seem to anticipate possible disaster outside of it.

Until the Next “Jones/Tarver” I hope
“The Boxing Junkie”
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